Finding Reasons to be Unhappy

Standard

This past week I was having an argument with my boyfriend. One of those arguments that when you are in the middle of it you realize are stupid and you are wasting time of your precious life on it. Once we both realized that it was a stupid argument, I also realized that the reason I enable these stupid arguments is because I have insecurities about the relationship. I told my boyfriend this and after talking about the insecurities, he said something that has made me think a lot about my life. He said; “It’s OK to have insecurities as long as your not just trying to find reasons to be unhappy.”

At the time, when he said that, I was all “Yeah, right.”, “Not me at all.”, but the more time has passed and those words have simmered in my conscience, I’m obliged to say, he may have a point. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t make me happy. However, I think it’s something that I have to explore.

Why is it so easy for me to focus on what makes me unhappy? Why do I give more value to these things than to the positives in my life? It’s not that I don’t see the positive, I’m not a pessimist, but I clearly see the bad things with a bigger lens. Sometimes when things aren’t going as well as I wish they would, I start to focus on all those little things that aren’t going well and forget about the big things that are doing at least moderately well. It’s easy to overlook the things that are going well, because they are things like; being healthy, being able to have time to go on walks with my dog, being in a healthy relationship, being able to support myself. Meanwhile, the things that make me unhappy are things like; not feeling comfortable in a bathing suit, wishing I was in a stage of my life where I could have more pets or children, having more romance in the relationship, and having a job I actually enjoy. The reality is I shouldn’t take for granted things like being healthy or a stable relationship, because I have had health scares and I’ve been in unstable relationships, and its not in a situation any one wants to be in.

For the most part, I try to be grateful for the things that are going in well in my life, but I do find reasons to be unhappy when too many things start to pile up. It’s a bad habit, I know. I think it’s normal to have moments like this, moments when life is getting the best of you, or at least it feels that way, but I can’t let it become normal practice. I have to find productive ways of dealing with these feelings, but I’m not sure what that means yet.

*Recommendations are welcomed.*

When you leave

Standard

I had a normal childhood, I grew up in a happy family, and when I left home it was because I had to, not because I was dying to leave my home. Over the years I have left my home for internships, to complete my masters degree, and permanently to find better job opportunities. In the past three years I have gone back home for short visits and to bury my grandmother.

Every time I plan to go back home, I feel excitement, I feel joy of going back to my safe place. However, the truth is my home is no longer my home. Just like any adult that has left their childhood home and has made a home somewhere else, going back to that childhood home is always bittersweet.

Add to that the fact that I grew up on an island; Puerto Rico, to be exact and now live on the States and you have not only a bittersweet feeling, but a lack of belonging. I understand that I grew up Americanized to begin with, we are American Citizens, but culture wise, tradition wise, it’s a whole other story. I understand that my culture shock will always be tiny compared to people that have migrated from drastically different countries, but there is still some of that heartache.

I’m sure I’m not the first one to feel this sense of no longer belonging where you came from and at the same time not feeling like you completely belong where you are. Sometimes it’s the tiny things that get you, like not being able to eat a particular snack. Other times, it’s the bigger things, like the sense of humor or the values. You end up stuck in the middle, no longer the person you use to be, not sure of the person you are becoming. It hurts and it’s scary.

I’m so scared of not holding on to my roots that whenever I leave to come back to my new home, I get a knot in my throat, not only am I leaving my safe place, my parents, I’m leaving a piece of my soul. I need to keep those roots anchored, to remember where I came from. This is the reason why, as I have gotten older, as I have spent more time away from home, as I feel the political climate we are in, I have made an effort to read more latinxs writters, to listen to more latin music, and to embrace my heritage.

There will be many times when I’m lost, when I’m not sure of where I belong, but if I’m certain of what I want to accomplish, and appreciate where I came from, I know I will attain my goals.

 

Books that have inspired me so far this year

Standard

At this point in the year I have read 48 of my 75 books goal for the year. Which means I have read a variety of books; fiction, non-fiction, thrillers, fantasy, graphic novels, romance, young adult, autobiographies, etc. Out of those 48 books there is a few that have struck a cord, that have inspired me in times of doubt. I will be brief, I will only mention the books that have really stayed with me. Here goes:

britt marie

  1. Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman (published in 2016)

What is it about: This book follows Britt-Marie a woman that is passed her prime and obsessed with keeping things clean. She finds herself in a small town, holding the first job she has had in a while and recently single. She surprisingly becomes involved with the local children’s soccer team and she starts to feel like she might belong.

Why did it make my list: Britt-Marie finds herself by being thrown into these uncomfortable situations. She finds herself having to make decisions for herself for the first time in a long time and she starts to question how she has lived so far. It pushed me to examined the life I was living and question how much I was doing to actually accomplish the things I craved to do.

Favorite Quote: “At a certain age almost all the questions a person asks him or herself are really just about one thing: how should you live your life?”

all the light

2. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (published in 2014)

What is it about: This is a WW2 story, about a blind French girl and a German boy. Their paths don’t really collide for most of the book, but their stories are connected. Marie-Laure is the French girl and Werner is the German boy. They live really different lives, Marie-Laure becomes blind early on in her life and her and her and her father escape Paris before the Nazi’s occupy it, Werner is trained in an Academy for Hitler Youth and is really talented with radio receivers. It is a story about how the decisions we face in life have consequences and how some people when faced with hard decisions will still try to do good by others.

Why did it make my list: One of the main reasons this book was so special to me, is because of how beautifully written this book is. It was so emotionally draining and it took me a while after reading this book to be able to pick up another book and connect to it. The reason why it inspired me was that in the book, some of the characters are challenged to make choices that they normally wouldn’t make for themselves. When the going got though, they rose to the occasion. Some characters, like Marie-Laure’s great uncle were scared of the decisions they knew they would have to make, but in the end (even if they were a bit hessitant) they did what was needed of them. I associated it with putting my money where my mouth was and the current political climate that we are living, it’s not enough to say that you support certain things, it’s time to act.

Favorite Quote: “Don’t you want to be alive before you die?”

on living

3. On Living, by Kerry Egan (published in 2016)

What is it about: This is a non-fiction, written by a hospice chaplain. It is part memoir, part inspiration/lessons on living. She talks about her own personal issues  and the lessons that her patients have taught her. It is a beautiful book about how everybody can be broken at times, about different things, but we all have the strength and the courage to heal. It is a short book with so much advise on living our best life.

Why did it make my list: Because it is a book about finding the courage to accept your flaws and make amends with yourself and others. It is a book that is packed with stories of what others fear and regret in their deathbeds, and it reminds us that we are given this one life. Instead of wasting it with regrets, let’s live it.

Favorite Quote: “I try to be loveful.” I asked her what she meant. “We shower so much love on babies and children,” she said. “But as we grow up, it stops. No one showers love on grown-ups. But I think we need more love as we get older, not less. Life gets harder, not easier, but we stop loving each other so much, just when we need love most. I—” Her voice caught in her throat, but she took a big breath and kept going. “I need more love now that I’m so old. I need love.”  (This book is just full of quotes to inspire you. It was hard to pick just one.)

These are just some of the books that have really moved me at times this year when (even if I didn’t know it) I need it a push. I firmly believe that you can learn so much about life and yourself by reading and it doesn’t have to be self-help or religious books. They are so many lessons and perspectives in each book I read, that there is always something to take away.

If you haven’t read this books, I recommend them. If you are not a reader at all, give it time, you just haven’t found your book yet.

I would love to hear about other books that have inspired you through tough times.

The 4 Main Things I Have Been Doing To Embrace My Self-Discovery

Standard

I have been absent from writing here for a while now. It is not because I have forgotten about this space, it’s because I have been out and about doing things. I realized that I had to keep myself busy with things I wanted to do and try in order to embrace the process of self discovery. I thought I would be able to do all the things I wanted to do and write about them. It turns out that something that I still need to work on. I decided that now that I’m on vacation it would be a good time to start the habit of continuing to do all the things I have been doing and adding writing to those things.

Because I have been so bad at keeping this updated, I wanted to start my reentry into blogging with the 4 main things I have been doing to embrace my self discovery, so here it goes:

1-Volunteer at an animal shelter:

Once a week for the last 3 months I have been going to an animal shelter to walk the dogs. They have an orientation day for volunteers interested in dog walking and after you attend that you can go any time you want to walk the dogs. I’m usually there for about 2 hours and walk about 5-6 dogs. It has quickly become time that I cherish for a few reasons; I’m alone with my thoughts and the dogs, I get to exercise while doing something I enjoy, and I get to meet and play with many dogs.

Reason this has helped my journey to self discovery: This has confirmed that I enjoy working with animals and in a cause I believe in. This has been a way to help animals in need without feeling like I have to bring them all home. I have been thinking that I want to transition from teaching to a field that involves animal handling and care, this is helping me get hands on experience and has helped me realize that it’s something I should explore more.

2- Taking dance lessons:

1 to 2 times a week I have been meeting with a dance instructor. I have been learning ball room dancing (specifically rumba and salsa), but I have also started to take pole dancing classes. This has been an eye opening experience for me, because the older I get the more comfortable I get with my body and the less I care about what people may think. I have always had a hard time following dances with steps, I love to dance, I’m just not coordinated enough to think about counting while I dance, and taking private lessons has really helped me understand the dances more. Pole dancing has been a self discovery experience all on it’s own, because I think it comes with so many stigmas about it, that just admitting to people that I’m doing it is an empowering experience, but I would say it is a super fun way to exercise and learn to embrace your body.

Reason this has helped my journey to self discovery: This has taught me that I can learn and be good at things that weren’t previously my strong suite. It has also helped me feel more confident about my body and be thankful for the body I do have. I think we get so caught up on if we are fat or skinny that we forget we have capable bodies regardless of what they look like, bodies that can move, that can take you places, and that is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

3- Reading and finding a community of readers:

I have been reading a lot. My Goodreads reading challenge for this year is 75 books and I have already read about 43 books this year. I have been embracing my reading, finding little times to read in between task, but also letting go of books that are not catching my attention. Which means I get to read things I really want to read. Not only have I been reading, but I made it a point to find a community of people that also like to read. I joined a reading circle at a local bookstore, we meet once a month and go over what we are reading. I joined Litsy, an online community of readers, I have heard it marketed as if Goodreads and Instagram had a baby. Litsy is great, I joined an online book club and have done a few book exchanges with people through it. It’s a great way to meet people reading the same book as you, but also people that have similar interest in books. I will also be attending BookCon in NYC, which is a huge book convention with panels, lots of book sellers and just people that love books.

Reason this has helped my journey to self discovery: For a long time now I have found it difficult to find other people that enjoy reading and just talking about books, partly because we are mostly introverts and aren’t crazy about meeting new people to begin with, but also because we are hard to find. This has helped me in my journey because I have had to push myself to go to events alone and interact with the people there. It has also helped me meet new friends with similar interest.

4- Baking:

Baking for me is an exercise in mindfulness. I’m focused on the steps and what I’m doing in the moment and everything else fades away. For this reason I have wanted to start challenging myself to try different bakes, different recipes that involve practicing new skills. It has become a way of getting stronger at a skill I enjoy and also embrace the meditative properties of it. I have baked many breads, macaroons, sweet breads and tiramisu. There is so many other pastries and skills I want to practice, it’s something to look forward to.

Reason this has helped me in my journey to self discovery: Baking has helped me stay centered and provides a treat to look forward to. I can plan what I want to bake and when I want to bake it. By dedicating a specific time and centering myself to follow the steps and embrace the wait, I create a practice where I’m forgetting about any trivial issues I may have and only exist in the moment. I also end with a product that regardless of it meets my expectations can be shared and provides an excuse to interact with neighbors, family and friends.

Overall, I want to keep adding things to my journey of self discovery, but I think these 4 are great simple examples that other people can also follow. This summer I want to continue to embrace doing things to learn more about myself and I want to make a real effort in recording my progress. Hopefully I will be able to at least update this once a week with all the things I’m doing.

Sorry for the break.

You are here

Standard

It’s never too late  to change change directions in the path of life. However, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. As I have discovered, any step I take towards a new route means a whole process with research having to be made, applications filled out and potential investing of my not so large savings. It becomes a matter of how do I want to invest my future. This has really put into perspective my priorities and what I’m passionate about. When I think about my priorities, a few things become clear; I don’t have a desire to move, I’m happy with my relationship status, I need to cut down my spending, and I want to be in a career path that makes happy and fulfilled. When I think about what I’m passionate about, more things start to come together; I love reading and writing, I’m passionate about the health of the environment and animals, I enjoy learning new things, and I love to cook. When I state the things I value and what is important in my life, I get a better idea of what I should be focusing on and what I have to let go of.

I have to focus on being grateful for the things and people I have that make me happy and support me. I have to focus on separating the time to practice self care. I have to prioritize my writing. I have to focus on creating and joining circles of people that share my interest. I have to become aware of my spending habits and learn to stop releasing my frustrations into retail therapy. I have to let go of other peoples expectations of me. I ultimately know what I want and what I don’t want. I alone am responsible for my happiness.

When I put all these things into perspective, I understand that there are things I can do while I’m figuring out what path I’m taking my future self into. While I wait for people to reply to emails, while I add and subtract what certificates make the most sense for me, while I apply for jobs, I can start to do little thing for myself. I found a reading circle to join, I signed up for some grant writing classes, I try to keep physically active, and I practice mindfulness while cooking.

Having written all these things, I also realize that I can do all these things because I’m privileged enough to have a job (regardless of my like or dislike of it) and have the time and access to do these things. What I realize is that because I can do these things, I owe it not only to myself, but to other people who might be in a similar mental or emotional state. I cannot just say it is too hard and give up. I have to dream, I have to hope and I have to at least try and accomplish self fulfillment.

  • Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now. -Audre Lorde

Melted heart

Standard

Last year I bought a Groupon for 10 yoga classes in one of my local yoga studios. I recently redeemed it and this past week I attended my second yoga class there. I don’t practice yoga as frequently as I would like to, but I’m familiar with the terminology and comfortable with most yoga poses (except headstands, I’m scared of headstands). It always surprises me how different yoga practices can be, not only in their style, but also the style of the person teaching it. In my journeys I have tried many a Groupon yoga class and I have encountered so many differences, but what stays constant is how I feel after a class. I feel relaxed, I feel strong, I feel like I can bend over backwards.

Usually, I try to attend yoga foundations courses. In foundation classes you tend to go over all the basics and the instructors always point out how to make minor adjustments to do the pose correctly.  With my schedule this semester, the class that works for me in this studio is a flow class. Yoga flow is all about movement and breathing. The two classes I have attended have been different, but  have focused on creating a repetition, a flow while breathing. This last class we did this breathing exercise where you inhaled and raised your arms up and when you exhale you bring your arms fast to your belly area and release all your air. It reminded me of raising a sword and stabbing yourself. I didn’t realize I needed to do that until I did that first stab. So much pent up energy, anxiety was released with each air jab. After doing a couple of these breathing exercises, I was conscious of my intention for my practice; to release my anxiety.

I had never practiced yoga with so strong of a direction into why I was practicing in the first place. For some reason, that particular day everything kind of clicked and I worked through the practice knowing what I was trying to accomplish. At some point in the middle of the practice once we had done a few sequences of standing up, folding, downward dog, we moved on to this pose were you want your chest to touch the ground. Every time we would have to do this she would say something along the lines of “let your heart melt to the ground”. Open heart, melted heart are pretty common phrases in yoga, but having a clear intention in my practiced really made me think about the phrase “melted heart”.  For me, it meant release, a melting heart; a heart that flows, holds no tension. As I would do the pose I would think of my heart flowing, releasing tension. It was so effective that even days later I say the phrase “melted heart” and visualize the same thing. It brought to perspective the power words can have when you state them with clear intentions. It might seem silly, but for me it was real, it was exactly what I needed.

Birthday

Standard

I have a birthday coming up and I don’t necessarily feel happy about it. I can’t pin point it exactly, but it doesn’t move me to celebrate. It’s not an age thing, I’ll be turning 29 and for the past three years I have already been thinking that I’m in my 30’s, so that’s not it. I know some of it has to do with my current life situation, being stuck in that transition where you have a job you want to quit and applying for other jobs, because you can’t quit. It is a weird situation due to the fact that I’m not in a crappy job, but the isolation of it and the commute get to me. Emotionally speaking, there are days when I just don’t have my shit together. That same emotional standing might be making me not care about my birthday.

However, I think it goes a little deeper than that. I have never been overly excited about birthdays. That is I’m super excited about my birthday from afar, but the closer it gets the more sense of dread that is present. This has to do with something so different, but probably still connected to my emotional shit. This comes from my birthday expectations. See, birthdays are a day to celebrate you as a person and if nobody remembers or makes a big deal about it, it means something (usually that you are too old for that, or unpopular), but if people remember and want to make a big deal about it, it also means something. It means you get to see what they really think of you, what they think you would like, what they know or think they know about you. Which I guess means I should shift that mindset and just be grateful for the friendships and the moments. How do you remove that self awareness? How do you stop over judging everything that is related to you and your person? That is the big question of my 29th year.